Thursday, June 26, 2014


One of CISV's educational principles goes as follows: we appreciate the similarities between people and value their differences.  I've been thinking a lot about diversity lately and the similarities and differences between USA and BRA.  Here are a few:

Education: If you ask me, the education system is pretty messed up in both countries.  In Jacksonville, they take the "smart" kids and put them in magnet schools, so those kids get the best resources and opportunities, leaving the regular schools without some of their best students.  In NYC, students have try for high test scores on high school entrance exams, but only those with money can pay to study for them.  The demographic in those good schools is completely unreflective of the demographic of students in the city.  In Brasil, public schools are awful up through high school.  If your family has the smallest bit of money, you go to private school.  But the public universities are the best in the country, and completely free.  You have to study incredibly hard to gain access to them, so you need to have the money to do a course to pass the entrance exam.  And teachers in both cases don't get treated so well.

Retirement: In Brasil, if you work for the government (professor at a public university, prefeitura, etc.), you make your same yearly salary after you retire.  Every year.  And it's possible to retire at 55.  Those who benefit from this system enjoy it, but many other see it as corrupt.  You could say the USA system is corrupt in its own way, even if you don't get that lovely salary after you retire.

Security: Brasil is a land of walls.  Everyone lives behind gates for protection.  I recently visited the richest neighborhood on the island, Jurere.  There, they don't have gates.  They pay extra money for high security to drive around at night so they can have the allusion of feeling safe.  In USA, we build our walls too, but the gates are less common.  Regardless, we all have the right to a sense of security, and I wish more people could feel safe in their own homes.

The list of the similarities and differences we value and appreciate could go on and on.  For now, I'm off to bed as I'm traveling this weekend.  I'm stopping in Rio (you can't fly there without seeing the Cristo and Copacabana) before heading out to Ilha Grande for the weekend.  Tchau!

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